How Online Poker works

Online card rooms use computer software to produce virtual card rooms. Players see a depiction of a card table on their screen, showing the other players (cartoon style) and details of their own hand much like you see on console games.

The software uses a random number generator to determine the order of the deck of cards. This ensures that, with each game, the cards are randomly shuffled. The software deals the cards and prompts the players to make decisions about their hands. At the appropriate times in the games it gives the options of check, call, bet, raise or fold. These options will appear on the screen. Players select which option they want by clicking with their computer mouse. The screen will tell you how much you need to bet to stay in the game and provide the options that you have at that point in the game. Throughout the game, a running total of the pot and the actions of the other players are shown. At the showdown the cards of the remaining players will be revealed. The software deducts the amount of the bets from the player’s account and credits any winning pots to their account.

Because the games are operated by a computer they are run at a much faster pace than normal poker games. There is no dealer so no time is wasted while the cards are shuffled, dealt and collected. There is often a time limit imposed. If you do not act within the time limit, your hand is folded.

The rules tend to be similar to those found in bricks and mortar casinos. Due to the internet environment, there are special rules that cover what happens if a player gets cut off from the internet during a game (see later).

Cards are burnt as in a normal poker game. You don’t see the cards getting burnt. The players take it in turn to be the dealer. They don’t physically deal the cards themselves. All the dealing is carried out by the software. A disc (dealer button) will indicate which player is the current dealer.

Once all the cards are dealt, the various options that are available during the game will appear on the screen – raise, call, check and fold. The first player has one of three choices: check, bet or fold. Once a bet has been placed, the subsequent players must call, raise or fold. In draw poker you will need to select the cards you want to hold.

Players can take a break, leaving the game for a short while and returning to the same table.


Joining a game
To begin playing you will need to log on to your account. This will take you to the lobby. Here you will find a list of all the games currently in progress. If there is an empty seat at a table you click on ‘Join game’ and you will be taken to that game. If there are no empty seats available, you can put your name on a waiting list. You can specify what stakes you want to play for and how many people you want to play against.

For each table there will be details of how many players are currently sitting at the table and how many are on the waiting list. If you put your name on the waiting list, you will be notified when a place becomes available.

You may sit in any chair that is available. You will be shown the players’ nicknames and how much money they are playing with.

An information box will tell you the name of the game, the limits and type of game the blinds, ante and the buy-in.

When you first sit down at a table you are prompted to enter the amount of your buy-in. There will be a minimum buy-in that will depend on the game being played.
Take your time to familiarize yourself with the layout as they differ with different sites. Most sites allow you to customize the screen to suit your taste.
Watch the games before playing and only join once you are confident that you understand exactly what you need to do. Read the terms and conditions before agreeing to them. Many sites have a code of conduct.


What happens if you get disconnected from the internet?
If you get disconnected from the internet while a game is in progress, the way that your hand is treated will vary with different sites so you should carefully check the rules. In general, your hand will automatically be played as all in. If check is an option, the system will check for you. If not you will go all in and a separate pot will be created. If you have the winning hand, you will be awarded the pot that built up at the time that you were disconnected. To avoid abuse of this feature, players are limited to a number of all ins in a 24-hour period. If you exceed the number of all ins in that time, your hand will be automatically folded if you get cut off from the internet.